Success is Closer Than You Think:
The Journey of Continuing Education 



GUEST: Brad Shoreman, Principal of Continuing and Community Education 

December 04, 2023

Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” It's a cautionary phrase we find on our side-view mirrors, reminding us that our perception can sometimes play tricks on us.

We often set deadlines for ourselves, and the pressure to achieve milestones by a certain age can feel overwhelming. We carefully lay out our plans and then life does what life does and shakes things up, throwing us unexpected curves.  We navigate through time, constantly shifting the goalpost - aiming for next week, next month, Monday (oh Monday, Monday…) wondering if our goals might always be distant specks on the horizon. 

Life’s rhythm doesn't always align with the timelines we set for ourselves. Careers, relationships, personal growth — it all unfolds at its own pace, and it's a marathon, not a sprint. As we focus our sights, we might be surprised to find that the dreams we thought were so distant are actually much closer than we think.  

Brad Shoreman is the Principal of Continuing Education (ConEd) at Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB). When he himself was a student, Brad knew what kind of educator he wanted to be. He knew he wanted to connect with students — the way some significant adults had with him — to give them opportunities they wouldn’t normally have access to. In his current role, Brad does just that. He shares with Chantelle, on Beyond the Bell podcast, the delight he feels seeing ConEd students succeed: 

Brad: In the past, this program was for people that struggled, or needed to come back as adults and find different pathways. And a lot of students also reach ahead or find these different program pathways. We see the faces of all these students as they start — it can be really emotional. Then things start to come to fruition, and finally, we see students cross the stage and graduate in a time when they didn’t think they would… it’s very, very exciting.

Chantelle: It’s really amazing that those doors, and those possibilities, are being opened! Brad, can you give an example of how ConEd develops career paths?

Brad: We’ve started a new stream of programs called Employment Training Programs. For example, we have Aquatic Leadership, and Camp Leadership where students go through their training programs to become lifeguards, swim instructors, and camp counsellors. Those students also get high school credits in those programs. Next in development is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) training program that students can start in Grade 11. A lot of this program is virtual because we want to support students in different communities. …

We’ll have our first group of PSWs graduating soon and most of them have already been hired and will go into full-time occupations as soon as they walk out of Grade 12! 

Two programs more geared towards adults, but are also open to Grade 11 and 12 students to get started, are the Educational Assistant and Custodial Training Program. It works like Cooperative Education [where the student is] earning credits, while most of the program is hands-on learning on the job. At the end of the programs, successful candidates will get an interview… and have a really good opportunity to find employment. If we sign you up at the end of the year as an apprentice, all those hours of experience count towards your apprenticeship.          

Chantelle: Wow! What a concrete link between education and employment that you’ve built into the process itself! Brad, I’ve heard that the whole process, or the graduation at least, has become a family affair. 

Brad: If you ever get a chance to come to a ConEd graduation, it’s really one of the best experiences you can have in education… There are so many amazing stories from our graduations, but last year in particular, we had a gentleman in the program who had left school early… and was working with one of our teachers on becoming a graduate. His mom had never gotten her diploma, so the teacher offered to help her too. The dad had gone to college as a mature student and never got his high school diploma. So now there are three of them working together and motivating each other, and teachers walking them through it, and last year all three of them crossed the stage at the same time for graduation! …We say we do education differently, right? So we always try to find a way to get people where they want to go.

Consider the student, ready to explore a field that has always intrigued them. Or the parent, who temporarily set aside their dreams to nurture a family, now finding the time to invest in their own education. These scenarios are reminders that pursuing your goals is not confined by age or circumstance. So adjust those mirrors, because the road through education is a winding one, and the most rewarding journeys often unfold right in front of us, closer than we ever imagined.

Listen to the full audio version on Beyond the Bell Podcast below: